by: Frederick Foote
A work of fiction, inspired by a distressing current event, where a man finds strength in a place where life and death hold the same negative value…
There is an off-duty police officer behind me in the bodega. I can almost feel him staring me down. I’m buying breath mints, just breath mints, nothing more. I pay. I put the mints in my pocket. I reach for my change, and at that moment the motherfucking cop pulls a gun on me.
He looks grim and tough like he’s fucking Dirty Harry. “Put em back. Put them back on the counter,” he roars.
He pulls back the slide on his pistol, pumping a round into the chamber and aims his gun at me.
At first, I don’t understand what’s happening. “What? What the fuck—”
“Put the mints you stole on the counter. Do it now.”
I want to be rational. For a split second, I’m concerned about life, my life and my boys, six and eight, and my mother, seventy-four. I want to live. I want to be there for them. There are things I want to do.
That’s the bullshit that holds me hostage to a life of a slow lynching, my emasculation by the daily tightening of the noose of white normality around my neck. I’m in the nigger trap. I can deny being a nigger. Never use the fucking word. I wear my the sweatshirt of my alma mater all the time. I kiss ass until my lips are sore. I strive to be inoffensive in word and deed, to be as “white” as I can fucking be. And this motherfucker comes in here and calls me back to my senses.
The gun pointing at me, the shooter’s stance, the righteous fucking smile, all remind me that I’m a nigger, now and forever.
I cross over to the land of the living-dead niggers. The invisible line between caring and not giving a damn. It’s an attitude adjustment where life and death hold the same negative value. I’m already dead, so there’s nothing that you soul assassins can do to harm me. Nothing…
“You pull a gun on me?” I point at him. “You piece of shit. You cowardly cocksucker. You pull a gun on me motherfucker?”
“Step back. Get back. Put your hands up.”
“Not happening you cracker cocksucker. You pulled your gun out and pointed it at me for no reason. Now use it.”
“I’m a police officer. I’m warning you to step back.”
“Back? There’s no going back motherfucker. Use it. Use it, or I will take it from you. I will use it. Empty it in your face. Erase you motherfucker.”
“You are under arrest for assault on a peace officer—”
“Peace officer.? You’re fucking disturbing, no destroying the peace. It was peaceful before you got here. It will be peaceful when you’re gone shit face.”
“Last warning! Step back.”
“Back! Why you keep talking about me going back? I’m the new nigger, fool. I only got one direction — forward.”
The clerk shouts, “Hey, hey, no, no, he paid. He paid. Look, look here’s the receipt.”
“It ain’t about that, man. This motherfucker don’t care about any damn receipt. He wants me back in the old fashion bow and scrape niggerhood. You want me to cower and cry and beg and plea for your mercy. You want me to step back — back up — give up. Right?”
“You are making this into something that you will regret. Just step back, and we can talk—”
“I’m making this into something? You crazy, confused, cracker motherfucker. Did I pull a gun on you? Did I come in here and pull a gun, put a round in the chamber and aim it at you?”
“You need to calm down, Sir.”
“Sir? I’m a Sir, now? Calm down? You rancid pile of pig shit, watch me calmly take a step forward. The new nigger in motion. See how calm I am.”
“Don’t do it. I will shoot.”
I take the step forward.
“Shoot. Shoot motherfucker. Shoot me. That’s what you came in here to do. I didn’t know today was ‘National Kill a Nigger on Closed Circuit TV Day.’ How the fuck could I forget that?”
The cop takes a step back. He blinks, looks at the camera behind the counter. “We can work this out—”
“Oh, that’s right — Every day’s ‘National Kill a Nigger Day.’ My bad! Let’s work this out. I got an idea. You give me the gun. That’s the way I want to work it out, fair enough?”
“You know I can’t do that.”
“Well, just remain calm. Remain calm, and I will take it away from you. How about that?”
“Sir, this is my last warning.”
“Blue-bellied cocksucker this is my next step forward.”
I take a step forward.
The cop takes a step back. “I don’t want to shoot you.”
“Then give me the fucking gun.”
“Clerk, I’m a police officer badge 2798. Call 911. Tell them I need backup.”
“Backup? You don’t need backup for one unarmed, forty-five-year-old, over-weight, nigger with hypertension, ulcers, and hemorrhoids. Fuck, man, you don’t even need that gun. Put the gun down and show me what you made of.”
“No! Don’t call. Don’t make that call. If they come here with SWAT, tear gas, tanks, and shit, there goes your store and you too. You too fucking brown to be calling 911. You know better. You know we all look alike to them.” I smile, almost laugh.
“Clerk, this is an order—”
“What you going to do — shoot the clerk too? You, punk motherfucker put down the gun.”
The cop sweating, wipes at his eyes, looking for a way out.
“Last chance little piggy. Backup ain’t coming. Somebody gonna die here real quick. You know that don’t you, you murdering motherfucker.”
The cop’s breathing quick and shallow. “No one has to die. No one has to die over a misunderstanding—”
“Misunderstanding? Have you lost your fucking pig mind? There’s no misunderstanding. You’re a government-sanctioned, professional nigger killer. I’m a nigger that needs killing. Where’s the misunderstanding? The clerk’s a nigger in the way. We all understand each other here. Right?”
The cop licks his lips. He got a tic in his left eye. He must be coming into some money soon.
“Right, motherfucker? Am I right? Somebody tell me I’m wrong?”
Nobody says a word.
“Well, well, well – now that’s a deep subject ain’t it? Do or die time? Is it do or die time?”
The clerk yells, “For God’s sake officer put away your gun, please. There’s no need for bloodshed. He’s not a thief. He comes here after work. No bloodshed here please.”
The cop lowers his gun. “You, you, backup, backup and we can work this out. No need to spill blood. The clerk’s right. Just back up.”
“What? What did you say? I can’t hear you. Let me take a step closer.”
“No! Stay where you are.”
“What? What did you say? You want me to stay a nigger forever? Fuck you!”
I take the next step.
Read more from Frederick Foote here.